Mercer-Fraser backing down? Think again

Image result for mercer fraser eureka ca

photo/graphic from Humboldt Baykeeper


First, let’s start with Ken Miller’s Letter to the editor in this morning’s Times-Standard then followed by our take;

Ryan Sundberg takes credit for putting out fires that he helped set: Mercer-Fraser’s withdrawal of their permit for a marijuana refinery on the Mad River, after the Water District’s appeal to the Board of Supervisors.

This Board of Supervisors changed the floodplain’s land use designation in the General Plan Update, 20 months after Mercer-Fraser applied for this project, leading to wasted time, energy and money.

In January, Ben Shepherd and the Planning Commission approved the project despite Humboldt Bay Water District’s objections and a public concerned for our water supply.

The Planning Commission approved a similar permit for another Mercer-Fraser cannabis refinery in the 100-year flood zone near Big Rock on the Trinity River close to an elementary school.

In 2009 Mercer-Fraser settled a fraud lawsuit for $1.3 million, after bidding for federal contracts as a small local company by concealing its affiliation with Contri Construction of Reno, Nevada, a $50 million firm, which owns 55 percent of Mercer-Fraser.

The Mendocino Air Quality District fined Grist Creek Aggregates, and Mercer-Fraser $173,000 for air pollution, declaring the plant a “public nuisance … an unpermitted crumb rubber mixing plant … a pattern of ongoing refusal to address air quality and compliance concerns …. ” Mercer-Fraser has applied to the Planning Commission for a similar permit to operate an asphalt plant near Big Lagoon.

Mercer’s lawyers imply that this permit can be resubmitted again. Maybe after the election? My hunch is that this story is not over.

Here’s how we see it:

Does anybody really believe that Mercer-Fraser is really not going to proceed with their chemical cannabis extraction business on the Mad River near Blue Lake? And what about the required zoning change needed for their longtime illegitimate gravel extraction business at that site? No way they are giving up, not by any stretch of the imagination. This project was just creating too much heat for their preferred candidates Virginia and Ryan.

So after trying to trick and/or bully the Water District into a bad deal failed, it has become too risky politically to continue to push this forward. Their legal counsel has advised them that it’s safer to wait till after their political rubber stamps are safely and securely in office for another four years before trying to move this forward.

This is not Mercer-Fraser only foray into the cannabis business don’t forget their two grows on the Van Duzen River near Dinsmore and the other chemical extraction plant proposed for the Trinity River near Willow Creek

What connection does Rex Bohn have with all this?

The corruption is so blatant in this county



Finally; the Democrats take the gloves off…..’bout damn time

The Democratic National Committee has filed a lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and the Russian government, alleging a conspiracy to disrupt the 2016 election.

The far-reaching suit also names Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Roger Stone, and Russian oligarch Aras Agalarov as defendants, among others.

The suit alleges that the Trump campaign was a “willing and active partner” in the Russian effort to attack American democracy.

The lawsuit asserts that the Trump campaign “maintained secret communications with individuals tied to the Russian government, including one of the intelligence agencies responsible for hacking the DNC.”

The DNC accuses the Trump campaign of “unimaginable treachery.”

The lawsuit seeks damages for computer fraud, conspiracy, trespass, and other statutory violations.

The lawsuit largely recounts publicly known facts about the Trump campaign’s activities but provides new details about the precise timing of the Russian hack of DNC servers. It notes that just four days after Russian intelligence started siphoning data off of DNC servers, a professor with links to the Russian government information a Trump campaign adviser, George Papadopolous that the Russians had “dirt” on Hillary.

The Washington Post notes there is some precedent for the DNC’s tactic. The DNC filed a lawsuit in 1972 “against then President Richard Nixon’s reelection committee seeking $1 million in damages for the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate building.”

The defendants

There are some 25 total people and entities named in Friday’s lawsuit, ranging from the Russian government and WikiLeaks to Stone and Julian Assange. All of the people and entities, over the past two years, have played their own, interconnected roles in the unfurling revelations about the Trump campaign’s ties to Russian hacking, and communiques with both WikiLeaks and Russian operatives.

For those following the saga, many of the names are unsurprising. For instance, the lawsuit identifies both Aras Agalarov, a Russian oligarch, and his son, Emin, each of whom were instrumental in setting up a June 2016 meeting with Trump, Jr., Kushner, and Manafort, the latter of whom was then Trump’s campaign chief. That meeting, which Trump Jr. believed would provide information on Hillary Clinton to the Trump campaign — an idea Trump Jr. memorably said he “loved” — ended up primarily discussing Russia’s ban on allowing Americans to adopt Russian children, a ban put in place following the implementation of the U.S.’s Magnitsky Act.

Both Agalarovs were also instrumental in partnering with the Trump Organization to bring the 2013 Miss Universe pageant to Moscow. The Trump Organization has previously passed along documents to the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller on the Agalarovs, according to CNN.

One of the new pieces of information in the lawsuit, which describes in detail the alleged conspiracy between the defendants, deals with the timeline involving the DNC hack and Joseph Mifsud, the professor who informed Papadopoulos — then one of Trump’s foreign policy advisors — that Russia had “dirt” on Clinton. Per the lawsuit, Russian hackers exfiltrated emails from the DNC on April 22, 2016 — only four days before Mifsud spoke with Papadopoulos about Russian “dirt” on Clinton. Both Mifsud and Papadopoulos are named in the lawsuit.

Many of those named in the lawsuit have also been charged by Mueller’s office, including Manafort and Rick Gates, Manafort’s erstwhile partner. In February, Gates pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, but a few weeks ago Mueller’s office also accused Gates of “directly communicating” with a “former Russian Intelligence Officer.”

Perhaps the most surprising defendant in the lawsuit is the Russian Federation itself, in that lawsuits against foreign countries rarely succeed on account of other countries’ immunity from most U.S. lawsuits. The DNC, however, alleges that Russia is “not entitled to sovereign immunity because the DNC’s claims arise out of Russia’s trespass onto the DNC’s private servers.” According to the DNC, Russia also “committed the trespass in order to steal trade secrets and commit economic espionage.”

Likewise, the lawsuit targets 10 unidentified Russian intelligence “officers or agencies,” identified as John Doe 1-10. The lawsuit claims that these ten “participated in the conspiracy” to hack the emails and servers, as well as circulate the stolen emails.

Interestingly, the lawsuit does not name all of the key players within the convoluted ties between Trump, his campaign, and Russian officials and cut-outs. Not only is the president not named, but neither is his daughter, Ivanka. Nor is Rob Goldstone or Natalia Veselnitskaya, both of whom were instrumental in organizing the 2016 Trump Tower meeting with Trump Jr., Manafort, and Kushner. And curiously, Felix Sater, who is mentioned in the lawsuit, is not listed as a defendant — despite the fact that Sater once wrote to Trump lawyer Michael Cohen that he would get “Putin on this programme and we will get Donald elected.”


We’re still waiting for the deal (?) Supervisor Sundberg; Updated

Update from LoCo:
Mercer-Fraser Withdraws Controversial Plans for Glendale Cannabis Extraction Plant and Rezone Request
Mercer-Fraser has abandoned plans to build a 5,000 square-foot marijuana manufacturing facility on a 13.5 acre parcel along the Mad River between Glendale Dr. and West End Rd. | Image courtesy County of Humboldt.
In a surprise announcement Wednesday morning, Fifth District Supervisor Ryan Sundberg tells the Outpost that Mercer-Fraser Co. has withdrawn plans for a controversial cannabis extraction facility along the banks of the Mad River, near Glendale, as well as a request to rezone the property heavy industrial.
Humboldt County Planning and Building Director John Ford confirms that the county received a letter from Mercer-Fraser’s attorney Tuesday night withdrawing both the proposed plans for a cannabis extraction facility and the request to have the property rezoned from agricultural to heavy industrial.
The project, which was narrowly approved by the Humboldt County Planning Commission earlier this year, has drawn a great deal of public scrutiny as well as an official appeal from the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District (HBMWD), whose leadership has argued that heavy industrial use on the property threatens to “adversely affect the domestic drinking water supply for nearly two thirds of the population of Humboldt County.”
Reached by phone this morning, HBMWD General Manager John Friedenbach said he had not heard of Mercer-Fraser’s plans to abandon the project.
“I’m surprised,” he said before quickly adding, “I reserve final judgment pending seeing that in writing.” Friedenbach added that if it proves to be true, “obviously the district is very glad to hear that.”
Sundberg recently has been alluding to an agreement that would please everybody, though earlier this week Mercer-Fraser President Justin Zabel said he couldn’t discuss what was in the works.
“We’re working on a good solution right now,” Zabel said on Monday. “So I guess stay tuned.”
He went on to say that he felt the project has been largely misunderstood, especially the request to rezone the property heavy industrial, which he said was a natural extension of changes made to the the underlying land use designation during the county’s general plan update.
Mercer-Fraser has operated a gravel yard and concrete batch plant on the premises for years.
“People talk about how the public should know what’s going on; this general plan [update] was going on for 10 years,” Zabel said, noting that Mercer-Fraser and other property owners in the Glendale region filed rezone requests as part of the open public process.
Zabel added that the company had no plans to operate the proposed cannabis extraction facility itself; rather, it was building it to lease. The proposal proved controversial largely because of plans to use volatile solvents, including butane, propane and carbon dioxide, in the extraction process.
HBMWD staff said heavy industrial activity near their Ranney Collectors (pump houses) threatened to contaminate the drinking water for up to two-thirds of the population of Humboldt County. These pump houses draw water up from the aquifer through the sands and gravel of the riverbed, providing filtered drinking water to residents of Eureka, Arcata, McKinleyville, Blue Lake, Manila and other communities in the north bay region.
Mercer-Fraser’s property sits within the Mad River’s 100-year flood zone, though Zabel said the company had agreed to build the cannabis extraction facility two feet above that designated elevation and had gone above and beyond state regulations in designing a septic disposal system.
“I am very happy to have this issue come to a successful conclusion,” Sundberg said. “It took a little more time because Mercer-Fraser wanted to look into withdrawing both the permit and the rezone. I want to thank them for working with me through the issues and their responsiveness to the community.”

Except will Mercer-Fraser bring this back in the near future after the election?


Mercer-Fraser’s Justin Zabel

Sundberg and Zabel continue to delay appeal hearing over Mercer-Fraser “hash lab” on the Mad

Mercer-Fraser’s Justin Zabel in cahoots with Ryan Sundberg continue to tease a resolution of the standoff with the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District over the potential threat to the water supply for two-thirds of Humboldt County water users. The Examiner asks; How can there be this great resolution if HBMWD isn’t aware of said resolution.

It seems to us that Ryan is just trying to kick the can down the road past the contested election for his 5th district seat.

From Tuesday's times-standard:

 Decision on pot facility expected

Sundberg “I think everybody will be happy’ with the resolution”

The Mercer-Fraser Company is expected to make an announcement Tuesday about its controversial proposal to build a cannabis manufacturing facility in Glendale upriver from a local drinking water supply pump that provides water to two-thirds of county residents, according to 5th District Humboldt County Supervisor and Board Chairman Ryan Sundberg.

Sundberg said he has been working with the company and the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — which supplies water to about 88,000 residents — in an attempt to resolve the water district’s concerns with the project.

“I think everybody will be happy with this. Nothing has changed,” Sundberg told the Times-Standard on Monday afternoon.

Mercer-Fraser CEO Justin Zabel said in an email to the Times-Standard on Monday evening a recent meeting with the county planning department and the water district was “very productive.” “We were finally able to have another meeting to meet and confer with county planning last week to discuss the entire application, rather than just the special permit application pursuant to our previous meetings and discussions with the water district and others,” Zabel wrote. “The meeting was very productive which will allow us to address the concerns shortly.”

The district and its seven municipal customers have expressed concern that the facility and a proposed zoning change at the property could potentially allow industrial contaminants to make their way into the groundwater or drinking water. The company has stated local and state regulations require safe containment of any chemicals used at the facility and that any future industrial uses at the property would have to be approved through a publicly vetted permitting process. The project has been on hold as the water district and Mercer-Fraser staff discuss potential resolutions. Last week, the water district’s General Manager John Friedenbach said that they had reached a verbal agreement on March 19, but that Mercer-Fraser has since changed its stance and the resolution talks had fallen through. As to whether Mercer-Fraser had agreed to pull the project entirely or modify it, Friedenbach declined comment both last week and again Monday. Sundberg also deferred comment to Mercer-Fraser.

Sundberg said he was disappointed in Friedenbach’s statements last week because nothing has changed about the agreement struck in March.

Mercer-Fraser staff met with county Planning and Building Director John Ford on April 9 to discuss more options, Sundberg said.

“They wanted to look at more options than just removing one permit,” Sundberg said. As to Tuesday’s expected announcement, Friedenbach said, “We’ll just wait and see what the announcement contains.”

The water district was also contacted by Mercer- Fraser’s attorney last week informing them the district’s hired counsel at Pioneer Law Group in Sacramento had a conflict of interest. The law firm had represented Mercer-Fraser more than 10 years ago but did not inform the water district, according to Friedenbach.

The district had retained the Sacramento law firm rather than its normal Eureka firm Mitchell, Brisso, Delaney, and Vrieze because the firm had previously represented Mercer- Fraser Company.

Friedenbach said that the water district’s board of directors voted Thursday to retain the Sacramento- based Thomas Law Group to replace Pioneer Law Group.

The Trumpulicans should be quaking in their boots

Ya, you should be afraid of eagles and millennials

The Harvard Institute of Politics released their Spring 2018 poll of young voters revealing the younger members of the Millennial Generation are enthusiastic about the midterm elections. It isn’t the first time millennials are keyed into an election — but it’s the first time the entirety of the generation is voting in an election.

For those born after 1980 or before 2000, politics has been fraught with war, economic depression, scandals and now fake news. The generation is the largest and most diverse in American history. This year marks the first that anyone born before November 2000 will be eligible to vote and they’re paying attention.

Real-time digital insights company Toluna revealed a full 89 percent of millennials use social media and news has become a significant part of social media interaction, The American Press Institute said.

“Millennials consume news and information in strikingly different ways than previous generations,” wrote API. “And their paths to discovery are more nuanced and varied than some may have imagined, according to the new study by the Media Insight Project… Fully 69 percent report getting news at least once a day — 40 percent several times a day.”

Millennials are watching and in November approximately 83.1 million of them will be eligible to vote. To put that in context, there are 76.4 million baby boomers and 65 million members of GenX.

Younger Millennials are Joining the Former Obama Generation.

In 2008, millennials were inspired by then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), who stood in opposition to the war in Iraq that had taken the lives of many millennials. With a campaign infrastructure already in place for then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and former presidential candidate John Edwards, Obama had to look outside the box for a way to succeed in the Iowa Caucuses. So, his team sought out young voters.

The campaign continued their youth outreach from state to state and into the general election. Turnout among young voters that election was 52 percent. It marked one of the highest turnout elections among youth since the voting age was lowered to 18. While young people disproportionately supported Democrats starting back in the 1990s when former President Bill Clinton first appeared on MTV, that divide between support for the parties has only grown since millennials first came of age in 2000.

Even without the historic personal and digital outreach from the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, Republicans were on the outs with young voters. The 2004 election aligned the Republican Party with white evangelical Christians in a fight to pass state Constitutional laws banning same-sex marriage. The head of today’s GOP, President Donald Trump, was behind the racist birther movement and is now warring against immigrants. The Republican Party has further been overrun by those who have called the Black Lives Matter movement a terrorist organization. These are all values the vast majority of millennials find repugnant.

Harstad Strategic Research conducted a survey of millennial voters on a series of political issues. Their attitudes spell a disaster for a Republican Party that has been moving further and further to the right.

(2014 Survey by Harstad Strategic Research)

As the chart reveals, every, single, policy the GOP stands for is opposed by young voters in both parties. In the past, an increase in independent voter registration has prompted some to argue that young people don’t see a difference between the two parties and ultimately wash their hands of both. GenForward, a bi-monthly survey of Millennials showed that it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The New War Against the NRA

If that wasn’t already a problem, the GOP is now standing with the National Rifle Association and in opposition to students fearful of their lives as the proliferation of mass shootings persists. While young people are frequently activated in college, high school students around the country have taken to the streets in wake of the Parkland, Florida shooting and the angry survivors demanding sensible gun laws.

GenForward reported that the majority of African American (63 percent), Asian American (76 percent), and Latino (60 percent) millennials say “it is more important to control gun ownership than to protect the right to own guns.” White youth, however, support gun control over gun ownership to a lesser extent (46 percent.)

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students that have become gun safety activists are pushing regulations and restrictions, but not abolition of guns entirely.

The fear isn’t exclusive to white suburban schools, however. When it comes to shootings of people of color by police, millennials see it as a serious problem.

Democrats Could Score Big — But Only if They Do The Work

In recent election cycles, the Center for Information and Research on Civil Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) said turnout among 18 to 20-year-old voters has been significantly lower than older millennials. That could change this year.

Outside of presidential elections, the Democratic Party has under-mobilized young voters, CIRCLE explained. Meaning, they’ve worked to register youth, but then don’t do the work to win their vote and get them to the polls the way other generations are targeted.

“While tools like text-message reminders and maps of polling locations can help get young people to the polls, they are still more likely to turn out if they receive personal outreach,” CIRCLE explained.

The last time Democrats ignored young voters in the 2010 midterm elections, they lost control of the House. When they did it again in 2014, Democrats lost control of the Senate.

In 2008, the Clinton team was caught disparaging young voters. At least two of the upper-echelon advisers, Mandy Grunwald and Mark Penn, were decidedly unimpressed with Obama’s young supporters.

Our people look like caucus-goers,” said top Clinton adviser Mandy Grunwald in Iowa. “And his people look like they are 18.”

Clinton strategist Mark Penn allegedly said, “they look like Facebook,” according to Grunwald. Adding, “Only a few of their people look like they could vote in any state.”

It proved to be yet another significant miscalculation about the youth vote that the Democratic Party should learn from.


Trump completely wimps out again and throws US Ambassador Nikki Haley under the bus

Thanks sir, I’ll have another!

On Sunday, Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, announced that the Treasury Department would be rolling out tough new sanctions against Russia on Monday as punishment for its continued support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.

But not 24 hours later, the White House threw Haley under the bus with a clear, contradictory message: Not so fast.

“We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

Sources familiar with the sanctions rollout process described a chaotic back-and-forth as lawmakers and staffers were struggling to figure out what Haley was exactly referring to. It was unlikely that Haley, who has been lauded by lawmakers from both parties for her tough anti-Kremlin positions, would have misspoken so egregiously if a sanctions regime was not already in the works.

Trump on Monday has now reneged on the preliminary plan to impose additional economic sanctions on Russia, walking back a Sunday announcement by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that the Kremlin had swiftly denounced as “international economic raiding.”

Preparations to punish Russia anew for its support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government over an alleged chemical weapons attack in Syria caused consternation at the White House. Haley had said on CBS News’s “Face the Nation” that sanctions on Russian companies behind the equipment related to Assad’s alleged chemical weapons attack would be announced Monday by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

After this announcement, Trump conferred with his national security advisers later Sunday and told them he was upset the sanctions were being officially rolled out because he was not yet comfortable executing them, according to several people familiar with the plan.

Administration officials said Monday it was highly unlikely Trump would approve any additional sanctions without at least another triggering event by Russia.

Sometime after Haley’s comments on CBS, the Trump administration notified the Russian Embassy in Washington that the sanctions were not in fact coming, a Russian Foreign Ministry official said Monday.

The Trump team decided to publicly characterize Haley’s announcement as a misstatement but White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement Monday: “We are considering additional sanctions on Russia and a decision will be made in the near future.”

An official at White House tried to spin the news as Haley got ahead of herself and made “an error that needs to be mopped up.”

But other administration officials expressed serious skepticism that Haley had merely misspoken. They said Haley is one of the most disciplined and cautious members of the Cabinet, especially when it comes to her public appearances. She regularly checks in with Trump personally to go over her planned statements before she sits for television interviews.

Haley issued no clarifying statement on Sunday after news organizations, including The Washington Post, reported prominently that the new sanctions would be announced Monday based on her comments to CBS.

Asked Monday morning why it had taken 24 hours for the administration to walk back Haley’s comments, one White House official said only that there had been confusion internally about what the plan was.

White House officials said Trump has been impressed with Haley lately, particularly her remarks about Syria over the past week, and stressed Monday that the president holds her in high regard.

In the absence of a permanent secretary of state, Haley has been the face of American diplomacy, playing an especially prominent role over the past week as the Trump administration responded to the attack in Syria.

Haley said Sunday on CBS: “You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already. And they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons used. And so I think everyone is going to feel it at this point. I think everyone knows that we sent a strong message, and our hope is that they listen to it.”

The Russians were listening. After Haley’s comments, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow that the sanctions were a U.S. ploy to oust Russia from international markets and constituted “undisguised attempts of unfair competition.”

Sources: Daily Beast and Washington Post

We’ve seen this before; Don’t forget the lessons of history


Albright Knows Fascism When She Sees It. The former secretary of state endured Nazi and Communist regimes as a child, so she doesn’t toss the word ‘fascism’ around lightly. And she thinks America should be worried.

Madeleine Albright can easily spot totalitarian regimes, the former UN ambassador and Secretary of State was only a toddler when Nazi storm troopers invaded her native Czechoslovakia, forcing her family to flee to London. Then, having resettled back home after the war, the family was forced to flee again when the Communists took control of the country.

National Fascist Party leader Benito Mussolini  “you pluck the chicken one feather at a time and the people don’t really notice”

Albright’s new book, Fascism: A Warning, is the work of a woman who knows authoritarianism when she sees it. And she sees the seeds of it not only in a slew of leaders hell-bent on subverting democratic norms—Turkey’s Erdoğan, Venezuela’s Maduro, Hungary’s Orbán, and others—but also in Donald Trump, whom she calls in the book “the first antidemocratic president in modern U.S. history. On too many days, beginning at dawn, he exhibits his disdain for democratic institutions, the ideals of equality and social justice, civil discourse, civic virtues, and America itself.”

“I do not call Trump a fascist,”(yet) she said in an interview with The Daily Beast. But ever since she wrote the book, Albright says POTUS has gone “beyond what I thought was possible in terms of disrespect for the rule of law and that nobody is above the law.”

Trump may be the reason Albright decided to write Fascism, but the book’s subjects range far beyond the orange-haired one. Essentially a history of 20th-century fascism and authoritarianism, the work opens by discussing the original goose-stepping bad boys, Hitler and Mussolini, and how they came to power, thanks to a combination of rising nationalism, technology-driven angst, and revulsion at governments that appeared corrupt.

Sound a bit familiar? Albright told The Daily Beast that when it comes to similarities between the ’30s and today, “In the United States there are people who are feeling left out economically. Also, there’s the sense that America is better off not being involved in international relations, that people around the world haven’t appreciated America enough.”

Fascism is particularly valuable for its analysis of how democratic regimes can slowly descend into authoritarianism and then fascism. “The tipping point is when there has been a systematic attempt to undermine the rule of law, to have the judiciary be a proponent of one point of view,” she said in the interview. “Also, when freedom of the press is subverted, and there is a sense that all the vehicles of information are identified with the leader and his policies. The absolute tipping point [toward fascism] is violence when the military is being used to control people.”

“The interesting regimes to watch are those who have just had their elections,” said Albright, who pointed to Russia and Hungary as countries where re-elected autocrats might take steps to further subvert democracy.

Here in the U.S., Albright, who describes herself in the book as “an optimist who worries a lot,” describes a whole checklist of Trumpian horrors. He likes strongmen. He speaks with scorn about U.S. institutions. His analysis of events is full of exaggerations unsupported by facts, which are designed to exploit insecurities and stir up resentment (Think: Mexicans as rapists). He threatens to lock up political rivals, denigrates the press, and nurtures bigotry toward Islam.

“Albright admitted that like many people, she is dumbfounded that given his failures, GOP leaders have not denounced Trump.”

Six-star generalissimo Donald J. Trump

Even more frightening, the book draws distinct parallels between Trump and Hitler (the powers-that-be underestimated both men initially, thought they were in over their heads), Trump and Mussolini (a belief in their own infallibility, a poor judge of individuals) and Trump and Sen. Joseph McCarthy (political leaders uncomfortable with their bullying tactics but afraid to call their bluff).

Not that there hasn’t been a little bit of a learning curve since Trump was elected. “As far as North Korea is concerned, he has begun to understand the importance of diplomacy,” said Albright. But with the hollowing out of the State Department under former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “we don’t have a lot of diplomats,” she said, “and any meeting like this involves a lot of preparation.”

Plus, when it comes to brand new national security adviser and super-hawk John Bolton, Albright isn’t really all that sanguine about the foreign relations situation. “I am very nervous about Bolton,” she said. “If you look at what he has said in the past, it makes me very nervous. He is a hard-liner and doctrinaire in a job that requires collegiality.”

Albright admitted that like many people, she is dumbfounded that given his failures, GOP leaders have not denounced Trump. “I don’t know why,” she said, “I’ve been surprised they haven’t. When they look at the cliff they are about to go over in the midterms, well, I am fascinated by the number of retirements taking place.”

She also seems perplexed by the total commitment of the president’s supporters. “I try very hard to be careful about not denigrating those who voted for Trump,” she said. “Is it that they are enamored of reality TV? It’s entertaining, it’s something outrageous.”

former FBI Director James Comey said trump reminded him of mobster ‘Sammy the Bull’ Gravano  former leader of the Gambino crime family

From Daily Beast


Vote with your coffee money

Calls are growing for a boycott of the Starbucks coffee shop chain after police were filmed arresting two black men waiting for a friend in a branch in Philadelphia.

Under the #BoycottStarbucks hashtag on Twitter, people accused the chain’s employees of racially profiling the men and criticized police for arresting them when they refused to leave.

The men were accused of trespassing, but have said they were simply waiting for a friend before ordering.

“The video shot by customers is very hard to watch and the actions in it are not representative of our Starbucks mission and values,” Johnson said in a statement. He added, “The basis for the call to the Philadelphia police department was wrong.”

Video of Thursday’s incident showed other patrons telling officers the pair were doing nothing wrong and appeared to have been targeted merely because of their race.

Philadelphia’s police commissioner on Saturday defended the arrest, saying his officers had to act after Starbucks employees told them the pair were trespassing.

Police Commissioner Richard Ross said he knew the incident had prompted a lot of concern, but said his officers “did absolutely nothing wrong.”

Ross said store employees called 911 to report a disturbance and trespassing.

When officers arrived, Ross said, staff told them the two men had wanted to use the restroom but were informed it was only for paying customers. The pair repeatedly refused to leave when politely asked to do so by the employees and officers, he said.

“If you think about it logically, that if a business calls and they say that someone is here that I no longer wish to be in my business, they (the officers) now have a legal obligation to carry out their duties. And they did just that,” Ross said.

“They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen, and instead they got the opposite back.”

Ross said that as an African-American man he was acutely aware of implicit bias. “We are committed to fair and unbiased policing and anything less than that will not be tolerated in this department,” he said.

The two men were released, Ross said, after officers learned Starbucks was “no longer interested” in prosecuting them.

In a post on Twitter earlier on Saturday, Starbucks Corp said it was sorry for what took place.

Johnson added his apology, saying the company would review its policies and “further train our partners to better know when police assistance is warranted.”

Melissa DePino, an author who posted the video of the arrest, said staff called police because the two men had not ordered anything while waiting for a friend. She said white customers were “wondering why it’s never happened to us when we do the same thing.”

Police departments across the United States have come under criticism for repeated instances of killing unarmed black men in recent years, which activists blame on racial biases in the criminal justice system.